Alcoa Earnings Call Insights: Upstream and Downstream Businesses, Italy Power Tariffs

On Tuesday, Alcoa Inc (NYSE:AA) reported its third quarter earnings and discussed the following topics in its earnings conference call. Take a look.

Upstream and Downstream Businesses

David Gagliano – Barclays: I was wondering if you could just use this as an opportunity to switch gears a bit and talk a bit about the strategy for Alcoa moving forward. There has been a bit of renewed chatter about potentially splitting the Company in parts upstream and downstream. I was wondering, if you could just talk us through what your views are, obviously on the subject and also why you think it does or does not make sense to separate the upstream from downstream businesses?

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Klaus Kleinfeld – Chairman and CEO: Yeah, David, that’s a good question. I know that we have talked with those that follow us a lot, we talked about it quite a bit, but happy to give you a high-level overview. First thing is, we don’t see any kind of rock that should remain unturned or that should not be questioned. Everybody knows that the business that we have does not by definition belong into our portfolio. We actually put it on a test and say we have to prove for every business that we have that we are a better parent to their business than anybody else. That basically brings out the question of what can Alcoa add in the business as an Alcoa advantage. The answer to that, I mean are multifold. In principle, you see it coming through technology, you see it in through procurement, it comes in through customer intimacy, customer reach, so the talent management that we have for the operating system, that’s how we can generate value and basically you see it very, very nicely in the performances that we have been able to generate in the downstream, as well as the midstream business and how we are performing against bringing the upstream business down on the cost curve. So that’s basically where we are on that and I can go into all kinds of example here, I could just take out the examples that I used hear in my presentation today. I mean on the EPS business for instance, the two examples on Airbus, as well as on Pratt & Whitney. In both cases these innovations were in new alloys. The alloys were not developed in the downstream business. The alloys were developed there where we have the best alloying experts, which is basically in our tech center. This is how we leverage technology as an example. Now you go to the upstream side, and take an example out of this quarter, I mean this quarter we have been very, very successful to signup new power agreements. We have been successful to signup power agreement in Brazil, as well as in Australia and that has been because we have been able to develop extremely good government relations to those respective national leaders. They understand what we need to remain competitive, that’s another classical parental advantage, but I could go through, I mean basically each single one of them measure us against whether we are able to perform with those businesses better than any other owner and I think we measure up well, so basically, we’ve told you what strategy we have. I don’t want to get into it in detail and we also have our Investor Day coming up in November, so there we have plenty of time to review it and go into this in detail. We believe that this is the right strategy and the best way to deliver value.

Italy Power Tariffs

Paretosh Misra – Morgan Stanley: I had a question, with the recent ruling on power tariffs in Italy. Are there any implications of that $300 million to $500 million cash payment that was due to the government?

Klaus Kleinfeld – Chairman and CEO: You are talking about the double interpretability?

Paretosh Misra – Morgan Stanley: Yes.

Klaus Kleinfeld – Chairman and CEO: No.

Paretosh Misra – Morgan Stanley: So you still might have to make that payment sometime within the next quarter guidance?

Klaus Kleinfeld – Chairman and CEO: That is correct, unfortunately.

A Closer Look: Alcoa Earnings Cheat Sheet>>